White Noise

From Sarah Hoye:

“Statistics suggest that as a young, black man, you have a greater chance of being shot and killed in Philadelphia than you would have if you were a soldier serving in the conflicts in Afghanistan or Iraq,” Charles said. “That’s absurd to me.”…

So where’s the nation’s outrage?

Daily, inner-city gun violence has become “white noise,” said Chuck Williams, founding director of Center for the Prevention of School-Aged Violence at Drexel University.

“At this point it’s like, ‘Oh, another six people got shot and killed over a week in a poor black community. Business as usual,’” he said, shrugging his shoulders. “So America says, if the urban communities don’t care enough about it, then why should we?”

Williams hopes that will change in the wake of the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

“If this (Newtown) is not enough for all of us to come together and say that something needs to be done, I don’t know what is,” he said. “Our kids are dying and they’re leaving us way too soon, and we have the power to do something about that if we so choose.”

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • EricMichaelSay

    The power to do what exactly? Limit their access to guns? Force them to stab each other?

  • Samuel

    I don’t think it is presumptuous to say that urban crime is not a priority or serious concern on a national level. Newtown was a tragedy, without a doubt however there is something to be said about gun violence being as much as a concern now when cities like Chicago, LA, Camden face this all the time.

  • Tom

    I think we have just become numb to it all and people who don’t want to limit guns just want to throw up their hands and do nothing. Isn’t there a middle ground here? Is our only answer to take away all the guns? As Christians can’t we offer more than this?

  • http://transformingseminarian.blogspot.com Mark Baker-Wright

    EricMichaelSay’s comment gets at, I think, a very important side to this issue (although he may not realize it). We’ve allowed our discussions to center on “gun control” rather than “reducing gun violence.” The former is controversial. The latter is a widely-agreed goal, but we’ve limited our discussion of the options for reaching that goal to the former. This needs to change. There ARE ways we can reduce gun violence if we can engage the discussion. Gun control is, at best, merely one tool.

  • TomH

    Hard to reconcile: Chicago has the tightest gun control in the nation. I guess a reasonable first start, but 500 dead. The body count on the radio and TV is indeed “white noise”. I have said before that I don’t think it is the weapon. But what does this say about the value of life. . . I am quick, and wrong I might add, to say “gosh, in the Middle East, they just don’t value life. Ha, we don’t here in Chicago-land either. So where does it start. Well, visiting Chuck’s website, he may have at least one of the answers as he gets to the issue of violence. And possible ways to address our attitudes toward violence…I will pray he does have an impact.

  • http://www.evanwickham.com Evan

    @Eric (#1) – Limit gun access. Yes. Strange conclusion.

  • Robin

    I think it is important to keep in mind that even the proposals the President is making this week will have literally no impact on 90% of urban youth violence.

    The three big features of the current legislative push are (1) universal background checks (2) assault weapons ban and (3) limitation on high capacity magazines.

    Most of the guns used in urban youth violence are purchased illegally and therefore not subject to a background check. Furthermore the vast majority of weapons used in these deaths are semi-automatic pistols, and thus will not be influenced by an assault weapons ban or limitation on magazine capacity. And noone is proposing bans on pistols because they don’t look scary like the guns used in Newtown or Aurora.

  • EricMichaelSay

    The author appears to be saying that homicides amount African American males will decline if guns were not available. There maybe a measure of truth to that. But, if gang 1 attacks gang 2 with knives etc instead of guns, what will xians have to say about the white noise of ethnic homicides in our urban war zones then?

  • T

    Eric (1),

    I don’t know if you intended it as such, but your comment was unnecessarily callous and disturbing.

    “They” are people, often children.

    Forcing “them” to stab each other!? I don’t even know how to express how insensitive and cold that reads to me.

    One of the ways people feel safe in this country, despite the gun violence that is rampant in many inner-cities, is by physically and emotionally separating “ourselves” from “them.” I don’t share the hope expressed in the post. I don’t think this tragedy will do much at all to cause America at large to mourn and/or confront inner-city violence, precisely because, unlike the Newtown tragedy that involves “us,” inner-city violence is about “them.” As far as “we” are concerned, even if “we” took “their” guns away, we’d just be forcing “them” to stab each other. Lord, have mercy.

    IMO, inner-city violence is a much more widespread and systemic and therefore much more important issue to deal with than these occasional mass-shootings, tragic though they are. Further, it is this violence that the Church could use its own weapons and treasures and blood to meaningfully reduce if “we” (the full Church “we”) thought that it was “our people” or at least Christ’s, who were being killed and terrorized. There is much that the Church could do on this front, but being callous about “them” is the opposite of helping.

  • http://www.theupsidedownworld.com Rebecca Trotter

    I read recently that they have estimated that 40% of those living in crime afflicted communities suffer from PTSD. As we are seeing with our soldiers, it takes resources to help people overcome trauma and PTSD. Left untreated it destroys lives and families. I think that unresolved trauma is the unexamined root of the ongoing issues we see in inner cities. Trauma tends to lead to pathologies which then create more trauma for those who are affected by pathological behavior. When kids have PTSD before they are old enough to develop any maturity it’s particularly difficult to stop the cycle before it repeats.

    I’m all for sane gun regulation, but until the issue of trauma is dealt with it’s just not going to make much of a difference.

  • Karen in AZ

    This is one an issue with one pat answer. It’s complex. Because something is complex doesn’t mean nothing should be done about it.
    The effect on the families left behind is far reaching as well, and generational in scope.
    Throwing our hands up and giving up isn’t enough.
    How about this: Does pro-life only apply to the unborn?
    If I an concerned for life, I should be concerned for ALL life, including the death in the urban centers, no matter who or what ethnic background or socioeconomic status they may come from.

  • metanoia

    For what it’s worth, my stance on gun control. We need; 1. Better mental health screening, 2. Stronger sentences for those found guilty of committing a crime with a gun.

    The fact remains that creating “gun free zones” is not very effective. Most of the atrocious crimes committed with guns were by mentally deranged individuals in gun free zones. Most crimes that are committed by individuals with guns has a drug or gang connection. The vast majority of the rest of the remaining crimes committed with guns are crimes of passion which, in my opinion, would have resulted in bodily harm using some other implement. Any legislation that fails to address the above is a misguided emotional response that will not address the real problem.

    The law abiding portion of society (the vast majority) need to have a way to defend themselves. It would be disingenuous to suggest that taking guns out of law abiding citizens will do anything significant to hinder a criminal or mentally disturbed individual from obtaining a gun or other instrument to commit mayhem.

    When I was a pastor in Chicago (30 years), there were a number of police officers who attended our church. I had a number of discussions with them about the crime rates in some of our “disadvantaged” neighborhoods. They told me confidentially that they were instructed by their superiors to practice “containment.” Keep the crime within the borders of the community and don’t allow it to spill over into the “better” neighborhoods. These officers told me that when they were called to a “gun crime in progress” they were to take their time to get there so as not to be in the line of fire. New recruits, and officers in bad standing were assigned to these precincts. In many cases, new police recruits simply tried to hold on long enough to be transferred to a better precinct.

    It is the untold, uninvestigated systemic sin that is also part of the gun crime problem.

  • EricMichaelSay

    T

    My comment was meant to be callous. The connotation I drew from the article was that young black men were more likely to be killed by random senseless gun violence than our troops in Iraq. I picture an innocent man about my age being killed in a drive by simply for being on the wrong street.

    We both know that simplistic picture is untrue. These are people who most often know or know of each other, owe each other money, and are conditioned through generational grudges etc… To think that any sort of weapon control will end these cycles is naive and patronizes, as you said, someone’s child.

    Which is why I worded my response the way I did. It was an imitation of the authors viewpoint.

  • RJS

    EricMichaelSay,

    With knives we won’t likely have this (From Feb 28 2012 Detroit Free Press):

    In northwest Detroit, a grandmother clung to the casket of her 9-month-old grandson, who was killed by gunfire. … And in an east-side hospital room, a 6-year-old boy was fighting for his life after being shot in an attempted carjacking. … Delric [the 9 month old] is the second child killed by gun violence in Detroit in recent weeks. Kade’jah Davis, 12, died Jan. 31 when bullets flew into her home. A 19-year-old man has been charged.

  • RJS

    Huffington Post Version:

    While much of Detroit’s gun violence can be attributed to disputes between people who know each other, it’s the city’s children who are often caught in the crossfire, as evidenced during last winter’s rash of juvenile shootings. A six-year-old boy was shot with an AK-47 during a carjacking committed by two 15-year-olds; a 12-year-old boy was hit when a traffic accident between several men turned into a shootout. Kade’jah Davis was completing her homework when she was fatally struck by bullets aimed through the front door of her home in January. Police say the shooter’s motive stemmed from an argument over a cell phone. And a nine-month-old infant named Delric Miller lost his life in February, when an assailant peppered the front of the home with rounds shot from an AK-47.

  • beth

    @RJS right on. right on.

  • Jag

    I am not sure how one would even purchase a gun illegally, given that you can sell any gun for cash with no ID to anyone… perhaps lying on the background check if you buy from a dealer, although that is the minority of sales.

    And the AK is the favored drive-by weapon, not the 9mm pistol. Gangsters may be criminals, but they are not stupid and live in a very Darwinian environment… they know enough to choose a weapon designed solely for killing people quickly.

    The problem is not illegal gun sales. Most mass murders are committed with guns obtained legally. The problem is that we have flooded our nation with guns to the point where any two-bit criminal or obviously insane person can obtain a military-grade firearm more easily than they can vote, drive a car or cash a check.

  • EricMichaelSay

    Jag, I had thought the same thing a few months ago, but now I’m not so sure. Do you have any statistics to backup those claims?

  • Robin

    Jag and EricMichael,

    According to the National Institute of Justice about 80% of all firearm-related homicides are committed by people using handguns (pistols) “all other guns”, which would include rifles, shotguns, and “assault rifles” are tied to approximately the same number of homicides as knives or “other weapons”

    I realize there may be some elements that prefer AK’s or ‘military-grade’ weapons, but even gang members are far more likely to be killed by a 9mm or a .357 than they are a semi-automatic rifle.

    http://www.nij.gov/topics/crime/gun-violence/welcome.htm

  • EricMichaelSay

    Thanks Robin.

  • Stephen Weaver

    As one who was in an inner-city, high-crime neighborhood today, I find a great deal of these comments disturbing. For believers, this is not a policy issue, and for the life of me I have no idea what it has to do with guns, except that there are far too many of them. For those who are “in Christ” this is an incarnational issue. We don’t live there now – we were visiting Christian leaders, but there was a time we did; for a long time. These kind of problems are solved locally, like most problems, by “a long obedience in the same direction.” By people like you and me, standing and living between the violent and the vulnerable. Think about it …


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